Riki Kobayashi Fellowship in Chemical Engineering

This fellowship honors Riki Kobayashi, a longtime faculty member and former chair, who has been internationally recognized for his research on developing novel techniques for measuring thermodynamic and transport properties.

About Dr. Kobayashi

Dr. Kobayashi, a Louis Calder Professor Emeritus in Chemical Engineering at Rice University, was born in Webster, Texas on May 13, 1924 to Mitsutaro and Moto Shigeta Kobayashi. He received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Rice University in February, 1944 at age 19 and an MSE 1947 and PhD, 1951 from the University of Michigan. He was the author with others of the Handbook of Natural Gas Engineering in 1949, a still much-used reference work in the field, as well as nearly 200 professional journal articles. He was characterized at an AIChE Symposium in his honor in 1987 as "one of the century's most prolific researchers in thermodynamic and transport properties," pioneering the measurement of hydrocarbon vapor-water-gas equilibrium, phase transitions and molecular diffusivity and the use of laser light scattering to measure properties in the critical region. His achievements included the invention of differential kinetics. The Gas Processors Association recognized his lifetime accomplishments with their first Donald Katz Award in 1985.

Dr. Kobayashi was a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Institute of Chemists and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas, the Japan Institute of Chemical Engineering (hon) as well as AIChE, AIME, ACS, Sigma Chi, Alpha Chi Sigma, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Lambda Upsilon, and Phi Kappa Phi. Dr. Kobayashi was the recipient of the Outstanding Engineering Award at Rice University, 1985, and the Albert Einstein Medal from the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, US 2010.

He was a member of the Unitarian Church and gave occasional lay sermons at First Unitarian and Emerson Unitarian Church in Houston. He served in the US Army from 1945-46 and received an Honorable Discharge in Chemical Warfare.

Dr. Kobayashi loved teaching and research and felt that they were equally important to a university. A fellowship was set up in his honor contributed to by many of his former students. He also loved sports and enjoyed tossing a football or a pick-up game of basketball with his students. While he was Dr. Kobayashi to his undergraduates, he was "Riki" to all his graduate students, except for those from Japan to whom he was the more respectful "sensei" (teacher). He kept in close touch with them. He and Lee liked entertaining graduates and undergraduates in their home for food, swimming, and backyard volleyball games.

Preceded in death by his brothers, Tokuye and Ty Kobayashi, he is survived by his wife, Lee, his sons, Brock and wife Denise Hanks, and Alec and wife Sandra, all of Houston, his step-daughters, Susan Lovejoy of Houston and Anne Lovejoy of Portland, ME, his brother Herbert Kobayashi and wife Haruko and sisters, Hope Kobayashi and Lily Landress of Webster and his sister Mitsu Iwata of Nagoya, Japan, his grandson Riki Stevens Kobayashi of Houston and grandchildren Spenser and Parker Marley of Portland, ME and numerous nieces and nephews.

Fellowship Recipients

  • 2021-2022, Feng-Yang Chen
  • 2020-2021, Peng Zhu and Lucas Hildebrand Pires da Punha
  • 2019-2020, Manav Bhati
  • 2018-2019, Jordan Shivers
  • 2017-2018, Chelsea Alexis Clark and Oliver Scott Dewey
  • 2016-2017, Santiago Martinez Legaspi
  • 2015-2016, Steve Kuei
  • 2014-2015, Abhinav Achreja
  • 2013-2014, Li Chen
  • 2012-2013, Lifeng Yang and Wenting Zhao
  • 2011-2012, Xianyu Li
  • 2010-2011, Jinghui Wang
  • 2009-2010, Fan Wang
  • 2008-2009, Dichuan Li
  • 2007-2008, Shyam Kadali
  • 2006-2007, Michail Stamatakis and Amir Amini
  • 2005-2006, Guarav Bhatnagar